by Matt “divito” Divito
This is an editorial piece. The opinions in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of compLexity Gaming or its parent company.)
When ESEA released their Invite moveups for the upcoming season, they ended their announcement with a psuedo-disclaimer that certainly didn’t help to quell the fire that was kindling:
As I’ve stated many times, our invite division is the only division that involves bias. The
above teams were selected based on season 4 performance, recent LAN performances, as well as their rosters.
While I’m sure the above list of teams will be a source of debate, trust that our intention was
to put together three divisions that will provide for exciting matches for the duration of the
regular season and provide us with a group of playoff teams willing and able to make the trip
for the LAN playoffs.
Forecasting the debate tells us one thing about these decisions: they don’t care about the logic (or where some would say, lack thereof) used or the controversy it may cause. Whether that CPL/WSVG-like attitude will work remains to be seen.
So what teams are causing all this hullabaloo? Getting the invite for Counter-Strike 1.6, was ESEA-M Season 4 champion, undertow, as well as Team Dynamic. And not to be outdone, exceptions were also taken in the Counter-Strike: Source division, where Pandemic and Frag Dominant curiously received invites.
To really understand all the emotions and questions surrounding the invited teams, let’s take a look at each division and run through the details.
The main controversy in the 1.6 division has mainly surrounded the selection of dynamic. Dynamic is a team that finished the regular season with a record of 10-6; this record was good for 8th in the Eastern division.
Making playoffs, they survived their first match with a 16-14 win, versus eventual 13th-16th place finisher, Frag Dominant. From there, they proceeded to lose to Blight (16-7), and then backfire (16-2), whom finished the playoffs 5th-6th and 7th-8th respectively.
Going back to Eric “lpkane” Thunberg’s original criteria, clearly the season 4 performance (9th-12th finish) wasn’t a dominating factor.
Moving to the second criterion, recent LAN performance is up next.
As is commonly referenced in forum posts, Team Dynamic holds the distinction of being local to one another, and conveniently or not, all reside in the city that held the WCG USA Finals.
Looking into that LAN performance, Dynamic came away in a round one victory over EG on de_dust2, 16-14. The upset doesn’t seem to hold water to their following matches, getting stomped by now defunct ESEA-I team, Turmoil (16-2), and eventual WCG USA winner and current ESEA-I Team, EG (16-1).
The other distinction is that they lost on de_train and de_nuke, maps that take more skill, teamwork and strategic involvement than their upset map, de_dust2.
That leaves us with the last criterion, roster. Dynamic fields a roster where most have solid experience amongst the top of the game in North America. Perhaps not all straight up stars from their former teams, but role players nonetheless.
Does this give them an edge after finishing 9th-12th in ESEA-M, a rounds for/against of 19-46 on LAN, and a roster of role-playing journeymen?
Looking in from the outside is one team that many are touting as a “should have been invited” team, Stacked Like Pancakes.
A team that had survived countless seasons being accused of cheating, keeping essentially the same core players, and after showing that they can perform on client, one has to wonder what is still holding them back.
Moving back into Thunberg’s criteria, we shall start with season 4 performance. SLP had yet another dominating regular season, going 15-1; their loss coming on de_lite, to Blight Gaming.
Shifting into playoffs, SLP cruised through their first two matches, losing only seven rounds. In round three, they met undertow, and for the third time during season 4, they lost on de_lite, this time in overtime.
The next three matches saw SLP lose only 23 rounds before meeting undertow back in the grand finals. Playing on de_inferno, undertow was able to come away with the victory, 16-13.
From a solid second place finish, the recent LAN performances for a team like SLP is non-existant. Using the perhaps overused excuse, that they reside in different states, means that practice for LAN and coordinating a potentially lengthy trip to an event, becomes complex and costly; it’s something that plagues a lot of the North American compeition for teams that are without funding.
And from a roster standpoint in the criteria, while they are nothing to shake a stick at, their continued performance online and continued core leaves us still, with plenty of questions.
In speaking with Bryan “buskey” Buskey, there was no anger in his words; only sheer disappointment. As aforementioned, going through incredible hurdles throughout his time in SLP, has made this process all the more trying, as they now have to endure another season of Main, where his team has gone a combined 29-3 over two regular seasons.
As a preliminary conclusion, is creating this much turmoil an aim at keeping their league at the tips of everyone’s tongues, or do they really not care? One of the main detractions from CAL was their invite format, and it appears that ESEA seems to think that they are above the failure that CAL went through.
At over 500 responses, Thunberg has kept himself busy on ESEA’s Invite thread, defending and deflecting many of the criticisms that people have over the choices made. As a person that can appreciate his position, the condescending and arrogant nature leaves much to be desired.
I assure everyone that there is no positive in deviating from your player base, as many organizations have learned. Players, in divisions that can be invited, will have to ask themselves whether or not they can enjoy playing in a league that doesn’t reward you on your play, and in some cases punishes you for your geographic location, or your financial situation.
It seems another rift is being created, rather than an unifying league.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which will cover Counter-Strike: Source.